Shaw spouses reflect on teaching careers
By Lisa Allen, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 07, 2021
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
In observance of teacher appreciation week, we honor our spouses who teach and share their stories of balancing teaching and military life.
Mrs. Megan Pratt and Mrs. Amanda Buckingham are teachers in the Sumter School District and have a combined 19 years of teaching experience. They are grateful for the flexibility their careers offer when it comes to being a military spouse and having to move every few years.
Pratt, a fourth grade teacher at Millwood Elementary School, has moved three times and is thankful that her job as a teacher is one that moves with her.
“One benefit of being a teacher as a military spouse is that it is a job that you can take anywhere you go,” said Pratt. “My job also gives me the same schedule as my own children, which is really helpful when my husband has to be away for work.”
When asked about moving to Sumter, both Pratt and Buckingham have been impressed with how military friendly the community is.
Buckingham, an automation & robotics and flight & space teacher at Alice Drive Middle School, said, “The Sumter community is very family oriented. They also have strong morals and values based on their family upbringing. Students give me advice and tips about events happening, and all the best places to eat and visit.”
Military life affords families the opportunity to experience different cultures and communities. As teachers, Pratt and Buckingham use these experiences to relate and empathize with what the students and families are going through. It helps them to build community in their classrooms, with other teachers and administrators, and parents alike.
Pratt shared, “It’s tough starting over with making new friends, and I think many of our students can relate to that as they move to new classes or new schools. Being able to relate to and empathize with what my students and their families are going through is so important, and I definitely feel like being a military spouse has helped me with that.”
There are probably more moves in her future, but Pratt is thankful that states are passing the license portability act to make certification less time consuming for spouses. She shared that it can be expensive to get certified in different states and usually requires additional background checks, fingerprinting, and sometimes even additional college classes to meet state requirements.
“In Alaska, for example, I was required to pay for two college-level Alaska studies courses on top of paying for my license,” said Pratt. “Transferring somewhere new can be so daunting, so I look forward to an easier process.”
When it comes to relocating, Buckingham has some sage advice for parents. “I would highly recommend visiting potential schools and setting up a tour of the building(s). Ask questions. Find out the programs the school offers, curriculum utilized, behavior supports, etc. The more knowledgeable you are, the better decision you will know you have made.”